Published: Friday, October 21, 2005
By Matt Crawford
Free Press Staff Writer
Susan Winter said she made "an honest mistake" on Oct. 5.
The mistake Winter made was shooting a Canada goose in a Grand Isle
County cornfield. The problem is, Canada goose season wasn't open Oct.
5, and Winter was charged with taking a goose in a closed season by
Vermont game warden Justin Stedman.
Winter, of Colchester, is the Chittenden County representative on the
Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board, the 14-member oversight committee that
works with the Fish and Wildlife Department to create hunting and
fishing regulations. Winter said Thursday she will resign over the
Winter said Thursday she didn't know Canada goose season was closed
Oct. 5, the opening day of Vermont's duck season. She hunted ducks in
the early morning, but was frustrated by the hunting conditions. She
decided to leave the duck marsh to visit friends in Grand Isle County.
On her way, she saw a flock of Canada geese in a cornfield and
decided to sneak to within shotgun range. Snow goose season was open,
but the season for migrating Canada geese doesn't open until Oct. 22.
"To be honest," said Winter, a lifelong hunter, "there is no excuse
for stupidity, for not double-checking the rules."
Winter is a well-known wildlife artist. She estimates she has donated
thousands of dollars' worth of artwork to wildlife conservation
organizations such as Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited and Becoming an
Outdoors Woman programs.
She has done work for the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department and
has designed stamps for other state's wildlife agencies.
"I've tried so hard to do things the right way," Winter said.
Stedman, who pulled Winter's vehicle over, also wrote her a ticket
for using a shotgun capable of holding more than three shells. If
convicted of both charges, Winter could lose her hunting and fishing
privileges for a year and face a $274 fine.
Col. Robert Rooks, chief game warden for the state, confirmed that
Winter had been charged and referred specific questions about the case
to Grand Isle County State's Attorney David Miller.
Board Chairman J. Rob Borowske had not received Winter's resignation
Thursday, but said those are usually communicated first to the
"I have to resign," Winter said. "I've cried for days and days over
this. I'm just so frustrated. I just want it all to be done with and get
this over with."
She was appointed to her position Aug. 9, 2004, by Gov. Jim Douglas.
Her term is set to expire Feb. 28, 2008.
Douglas' office could not be reached for comment.
Winter will be the second Fish and Wildlife board member to resign in
two years after being caught violating hunting regulations.
Kermit Spaulding stepped down in December 2003 after he was he issued
a ticket for shooting from a motor vehicle at a deer decoy set up in a
"I feel so bad," Winter said. "I didn't shoot from a truck; I didn't
knowingly do anything that was illegal. This is embarrassing."
Contact Matt Crawford at 651-4852 or